China to Finance and Build Malaysian East Coast Rail Line

China to Finance and Build Malaysian East Coast Rail Line :As he arrived in the Chinese capital Beijing on 31 October 2016, as part of the delegation accompanying Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on a six-day visit, Malaysian Treasury Secretary General Irwan Serigar Abdullah told reporters that Malaysia and China are about to sign the Framework Financing Agreement and the Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) Contract for the East Coast Railway Line (ECRL) Project.
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The EPC contract will be awarded to government-owned China Communication Construction Company (CCCC), with the funding coming from Export Import Bank of China (EXIM). The Chinese government has offered a low interest rate together with a repayment period of twenty years. According to Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai “in the first seven years Malaysia will not have to pay anything”, neither interest nor capital.

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009.

The Malaysian Land Public Transport Commission (Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat, SPAD) and the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) jointly launched a Request for Information (RFI) for the project on 15 March 2016.

The East Coast Economic Region (ECER) is an area measuring over 66,000 square km, covering the states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, as well as the district of Mersing in Johor.

ECRL is a high impact infrastructure project that in the Malaysian government’s view will form the backbone of ECER’s multimodal transport infrastructure and provide an efficient link to Greater Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley.

The 620 km long double track standard gauge line will connect Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur with Bentong in Pahang province and run through Terengganu province to Tumpat in the north east border province of Kelantan. Train services will operate at up to 200 km/h.
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The new line will be developed in phases and will require a significant amount of underground tunneling to get through the Titiwangsa Mountains, the mountain range that forms the backbone of the Malay Peninsula.

Construction is expected to start in 2017 and last five years.

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Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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